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Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. will stop selling fresh seafood in its Florida superstores, a move the retailer says has no connection to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
The Bentonville, Ark.-based mega-retailer is dropping fresh seafood products because it didn’t see enough business in fresh seafood, Joaquin Gonzalez, Walmart VP for Florida, told The St. Petersburg Times. Walmart, Florida’s third-largest grocery chain, still sells frozen seafood.
Bob Jones, executive director of the Tallahassee-based Southeastern Fisheries Association, said higher prices for Gulf seafood and a drop in demand for the products since the oil leak began three months ago could explain Walmart’s decision, a blow to Florida’s $1 billion-a-year seafood industry, which supplied the chain with snapper and grouper.
“It does sound bad for us to say that Walmart stopped the fresh seafood even though they didn’t explicitly say Florida seafood,” Jones said, according to published reports. “People are afraid to eat any kind of seafood from the Gulf of Mexico because … of the perception that the waters and the fish are bad.”
Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market already has stopped buying and selling seafood from the Gulf, even from waters deemed safe for fishing, Russ Benblatt, spokesman for Whole Foods in Florida, told local press. But that’s just to play it safe, not because Whole Foods has seen a drop in seafood sales, which Benblatt said are up over previous summers.